Monday, April 4, 2011

A novel transmission mechanism of a retrovirus

Pais-Correia AM, Sachse M, Guadagnini S, Robbiati V, Lasserre R, Gessain A, Gout O, Alcover A, Thoulouze MI.:
Institut Pasteur, Unité de Biologie Cellulaire des Lymphocytes, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Unité de Recherche Associée 1961, Paris, France.

Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a lymphotropic retrovirus whose cell-to-cell transmission requires cell contacts. HTLV-1-infected T lymphocytes form 'virological synapses', but the mechanism of HTLV-1 transmission remains poorly understood.

We show here that HTLV-1-infected T lymphocytes transiently store viral particles as carbohydrate-rich extracellular assemblies that are held together and attached to the cell surface by virally-induced extracellular matrix components, including collagen and agrin, and cellular linker proteins, such as tetherin and galectin-3.

Extracellular viral assemblies rapidly adhere to other cells upon cell contact, allowing virus spread and infection of target cells. Their removal strongly reduces the ability of HTLV-1-producing cells to infect target cells.

Our findings unveil a novel virus transmission mechanism based on the generation of extracellular viral particle assemblies whose structure, composition and function resemble those of bacterial biofilms.

HTLV-1 biofilm-like structures represent a major route for virus transmission from cell to cell.

PMID: 20023636 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE

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